Americas, Middle East

US-led coalition transfers military airbase to Iraq

Qayyarah airbase was handed over following departure of French troops

Ali Jawad   | 26.03.2020
US-led coalition transfers military airbase to Iraq

BAGHDAD 

The U.S.-led coalition against the Daesh/ISIS terror group on Thursday formally handed over to Iraq the Qayyarah airbase in southern Mosul, according to a military source.

The coalition handed over the airbase after the departure of French troops from Iraq on Wednesday.

"The U.S. forces stationed at Qayyarah airbase have withdrawn completely Thursday morning," the military source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The international coalition confirmed the departure of hundreds of its troops from Iraq and handed over all its sites and bases to the Iraqi army.

"The coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat Daesh remnants, this is our only purpose. In fact, we're transferring bases to Iraqi military and 100s of training troops are departing temporarily for COVID-19 safety," Col. Myles Caggins, spokesperson for the coalition, said in a Twitter post.

On Wednesday, France withdrew its troops from Iraq, deployed as part of a U.S.-led coalition against the Daesh/ISIS terror group, after agreements reached earlier with Baghdad.

Previously in the day, the Czech Republic’s National Defense Ministry also announced that it had withdrawn its troops from Iraq due to increasing coronavirus risks and attacks targeting coalition forces.

The U.S. cobbled a coalition together in 2014 with the stated aim of fighting the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS.

In recent weeks, some military bases hosting the coalition forces in Iraq have come under attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Camp Taji, which hosts anti-Daesh coalition and NATO's Iraq Mission personnel, was hit by rockets on March 11. The attack left two American troops and one British serviceman dead, while 14 others were injured.

In response, the U.S. conducted strikes against pro-Iranian militia Kataib Hezbollah's weapon stores in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament decided Jan. 5 to end the military presence of all foreign troops in the country, including the U.S.

The move came after U.S. killed Iranian top general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq on Jan. 3.

Iraq reported a total of 363 infections from the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

*Bassel Ibrahim contributed to this report from Ankara

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